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Telehealth video consultation

  • Telehealth is a health appointment by video call. It’s an easy way to have your appointment without travelling to see your child’s doctor.

    The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) offers face to face or telehealth video consultations for your child’s appointment.  This includes paediatric specialist appointments, allied health appointments and some nursing consults.

    The RCH appreciates the commitment families make to travel into the hospital to attend appointments. Long driving distances, waiting times and taking time off work or school may add to the stress levels your family experience when organising an appointment. Telehealth consultations allow you to attend the appointment from your own home or other private space, which reduces the amount of disruption to your day.

    Your child’s treating team will determine whether the nature of your appointment is suitable for telehealth. However, you may also request that telehealth be considered if you believe it is suitable for your family. 

    How does it work?

    Telehealth is like other online conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, but easier because you do not need to install a program or create a special account.

    A computer, laptop, iPad or tablet is required with a built-in or plug in webcam and reliable internet connection. Please avoid using a mobile phone where possible as this can make it challenging for the clinician to see your child.

    If for any reason the video link fails, the clinician will call you and complete the consultation by phone.

    What are the advantages of telehealth?

    There are many advantages to using telehealth, including:

    • Your home becomes the waiting room.
    • Less or no travel time.
    • Saved travel costs.
    • Less disruption to your life.
    • Less time away from school for your child.
    • Less time in a foreign environment, especially for children with behavioural difficulties.
    • Ability for the healthcare professional to observe your child in their own environment.
    • If your local healthcare professional (e.g. GP, paediatrician, nurse, etc.) is involved, they can better manage follow-up and ongoing care.
    • Multiple family members can join the telehealth consultation if they are in different locations, e.g. if one carer is at work and the other carer is at home with your child. 

    What are the disadvantages of telehealth?

    Some things to consider with a telehealth appointment, include:

    • Your child’s doctor or nurse cannot physically examine your child, but this may not matter. Your child’s treating clinician will decide how important the physical examination is and make the appointment accordingly. For this reason, not every visit may be via telehealth.
    • The video link may fail. The clinician will usually call you and complete the consultation by phone if this happens.
    • Telehealth may be suitable for some of your child’s appointments but not others. Your child’s treating clinician will make the final decision about whether telehealth is suitable or not.

    When might telehealth be a good option?

    Aside from the benefits of reduced travel time and disruption to your day, there are many other reasons why telehealth might be the best way to conduct your child’s appointment. These include if: 
    • The appointment is to discuss results or medications. 
    • The appointment is a discussion about how your child has been feeling generally.
    • Assessment or treatment occurs mostly through observation rather than physical examination, examples include physiotherapy sessions, speech sessions and many medical reviews where your child’s history is the most important aspect of the consult.
    • It would be useful to include your local doctor who can arrange tests, care or treatment locally and then help manage your child’s ongoing care.
    • It would be helpful to include other doctors, nurses or allied health professionals who are in different locations. 
    • You want to include other family members who cannot travel to the RCH for the appointment.

    What about follow-up?

    Follow-up appointments can occur via telehealth again if preferred, face-to-face at the RCH, or with your local healthcare provider. Follow up investigations and tests can be arranged locally, nearer to your home. Prescriptions can often be posted to you or faxed directly to your local pharmacy.

    Are there any costs?

    The RCH will not charge you for any telehealth appointment. If the appointment is with your local paediatrician or GP, ask them if the appointment will incur a cost. The RCH may ask for your consent to bill Medicare on your behalf, but we will send you an email containing a link for you to type in your consent after the appointment.

    What do I do now?

    If you would like to know more about telehealth for a future appointment, please visit the RCH website.

    You can also contact your child’s treating team, contact Specialist Clinics on (03) 9345 6180,  via the number on your appointment letter, or contact the RCH telehealth program directly on (03) 9345 4645 to find out if a telehealth appointment is suitable for your child. 

    Key points to remember

    • Telehealth video-consultation is an appointment run by video, usually through a desktop or laptop computer with a webcam. This can be in your home, with your local GP or elsewhere
    • Telehealth can be a convenient option for many appointment types to save a visit to the RCH with benefits even for those who live locally
    • Contact the RCH if you are interested in arranging a telehealth video-consultation for your child.

    More information


Disclaimer  

This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.